While this poem may be a bit dated, assuming only one gender, it captures my heartfelt thanks to all men and women that serve. Please share
The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who,
under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He may not yet have held a job, but he has
never collected unemployment either.
He’s a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport
activities, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.
He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting
from before dawn to well after dusk. He may find letter writing tedious,
but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite
to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.
He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march.
He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.
He is self-sufficient.
He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.
He may not have a chance to brush his teeth, but never misses one to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.
If you’re thirsty, he’ll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He’ll even split his ammunition
with you in the midst of battle when you run low..
He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands.
He can save your life – or take it, because that is his job.
He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all.
He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.
He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.
He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to ‘square-away ‘ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.
Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.
He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.
Remember him, always, and keep him in your prayers, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.
Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need.